The three-generation family company Montano’s Chocolate has opened a factory in Arouca, which is expected to increase its production capacity by 460 per cent.
“Making our own chocolates provided capacity building. When we had our chocolates made for us we did 2,500 bars a month, now at the level where we are we could do 14,000 per month,” director Elizabeth Montano stated.
Montano’s Chocolate manufactures the Machel Montano 60 per cent dark chocolate bar as well as cocoa nibs, cocoa butter and cocoa powder.
The business began after Gillian Goddard approached the Montano’s in 2014 to sell her chocolate at their store located at the Piarco International Airport.
“My mind just went that we can do a chocolate for Machel Monday because that year Machel Monday was falling close to Valentine’s Day and we turned it into what we called ‘Happy Nation’ because that was the theme that year for Machel Monday,” she stated.
And so Montano’s Chocolate entered the local market with its “Happy Nation” 50g bar as a Carnival and Valentine’s Day promotion.
“In the beginning, it was being made under Xtatik Limited and then we decided we wanted to form a company and it will be a company that is purely going to be built on the three generations,” Montano said.
Montano said capacity had to be increased since the goal is to start exporting the chocolates.
“We hope to expand to the overseas market into the CARICOM area Guyana, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados,” Montano said.
Tenika Phillip a business advisor at ExporTT said they have been working with the Montano’s over the past two years to help them as they begin their export thrust.
Trade and Industry minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said Montano’s Chocolate was able to access $250,000 in grant funding
“They, in turn, were able to match that for the purchase of machinery and equipment,” Gopee-Scoon said.
Montano’s sons Marcus and Machel are the company’s operations manager and brand ambassador respectively.
Montano said the company has been able to use the pandemic as a time to grow and learn.